disclaimer: I was approached by Status Audio regarding the Status IEM2X. This is the 2nd product in their line, released after the Status CB1 over-ear and before their bluetooth offerings which now include one on-ear and two in-ear models. Status established a reputation for providing good value with its CB1 that offered solid performance and good build quality in the sub-$100 space. Prices have now stabilized around the $60 mark for the CB1. The IEM2X retails for $59 on Status website, but can be had for less on Amazon or with a coupon code through the Status webpage.
Unboxing / Accessories:
The IEM 2X comes in flat black lift top box with Status and IEM2X written on the top in gloss black and IEM-2X written in silver on the end of the box. A pull tab is provided at the lower end to make opening the box a bit simpler. Inside, the earpieces are nestled in foam at the top while a flap hides the rest of the contents. Under the flap is a small spring closure case, a product manual, and 3 sets of tips (SML).
The IEM2X is a micro-bud by definition with a metal shell fashioned in a capsule shape and available in either flat black or gunmetal. My set are the flat black and sport a silver ring around the rear of the capsules. There is a seam about midway up the length of the capsule with the taper to the nozzles starting roughly 2mm ahead of it. Nozzles exit the center of the capsule and are fairly short with a pronounced lip to hold tips in place. I did find myself wishing the nozzles were a bit longer as the whole of the capsule must be inserted into the ear canal to get a good seal or something like a triple flange tip needs to be used. A longer nozzle might solve that same issue without the need to resort to multi-flanged tips.
Normally, I cover the cable in its own section, but since it is non-removable I have elected to add it to the build discussion. Starting from the jack, the cable differentiates itself from the standard. The jack is a 3.5mm TRRS Type with a 45º exit and is housed in black rubber. Cable is cloth wrapped from the jack to the splitter which is made of the same rubber compound. The splitter has a good strain relief below and a chin slider immediately above. Wires above the splitter are rubber coated rather than cloth wrapped and enter the rear of the capsule with a slight outward rake.
The IEM-2X utilizes a 9mm dynamic driver for lows and mids in unison with a balanced armature driver to handle treble duties. Status lists a frequency response from 20-40kHz but doesn’t list the +/- how many dB so the utility of that information is somewhat suspect. Nominal impedance is listed as 18Ω with a sensitivtiy of 102 dB\mW. The numbers and the fact that the cable has a mic and remote indicate the 2x is designed for use with tablets and smartphones and it is indeed easy enough to drive from low powered sources. I found it scaled very little with more power and develops a notable hiss when run using high potency amps (Valhalla/Asgard2).
By now most who have read many of my reviews know that I see the mic/remote as of little use and choose to avoid them when possible. That having been said, I am willing to concede that at times it is nice to be able to take a call without having to remove my earphones first and the setups with mic/remote are also useful for conference calls or webex sessions where you want hands free for other work. The Remote on the IEM2x is of the 3 button type with the mic on the reverse about 2/3 of the way up the shell. I found the remote to work well when paired with Hiby or Neutron on Android devices. The mic functioned well when connected to either phone or PC although the PC did not respond to remote controls (This is a function of the windows pc and not of the IEM2X). Voice quality was perfectly acceptable for taking calls, but like all mics of this style it is somewhat susceptible to wind and noise from rubbing on clothing.
As previously mentioned, I spent some time rolling tips with the IEM2X because while the provided tips did seal, they just didn’t give the most comfortable fit. I found a longer tip where I could seat the tip deeper without seating the body of earphone quite as deep was a more comfortable fit.
Sub-bass is present, but somewhat weak so some rumble is possible, but these are not the earbuds for the inveterate basshead. Mid-bass is more forward and has good detail and timbre with good speed of attack and just slightly slower decay that leaves a hint of lingering warmth. Mid-bass is clean without much bleed into the mids which is somewhat surprising as I expected more bass bleed with the thickness of the mid-bass. Somehow Status has managed to get both a full mid-bass with good detail, and a fairly clean transition into the lower mids where bass bleed doesn’t mask the lower mids. Well done.
As mentioned, lower mids are somewhat behind the mid-bass, but male vocals do not feel hidden or lost. Detail in the mids is quite good and clarity is better than anticipated. Upper mids climb a bit forward along with the lower treble but not enough to dominate the signature. Female vocals again are well detailed with out any tendency toward stridency or sibilance. Timbre is better on some instruments than others, acoustic guitar is detailed and clean while electric can come off as slightly compressed at times.
Lower treble follows the upper-mids and continues to climb. there are a few ups and downs to the treble and upper treble with a large dip above 6kHz and the final roll-off becoming obvious above an 11kHz spike. The upper spile does add some air back, but overall the treble seems a little closed in and cymbals are a bit tizzy. Many will find the treble polite as the lack of extension above about 6k keeps the IEM2x from being fatiguing, but at the expense of detail at the top end and sparkle at times. That combined with a bit of graininess that surfaces in the treble at times are the biggest detractors of the IEM2x as far as I am concerned.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is fairly limited in depth with a bit larger width and limited height. Overall it feels like you are seated in the first 3 rows of a small theater in the round. Instrument separation is good and imaging is reasonably accurate although somewhat limited by stage size. Layering is good and the ability to seat the orchestra in the head is better than expected at this price point. I expected it to seem a bit cramped due to stage size but the instrument separation keeps it from feeling too overlapped.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
I know Status Audio to be a value branding that aims to provide better quality than the price suggests. The CB1 certainly set the stage and the IEM2x continues the trend. The IEM2X delivers more detail and clarity at the price than is usually seen and gives users an alternative to the normal KZ fodder in the sub-$40 class. Sound is well balanced without any major recesses and nothing pushed way in front. The treble is a little grainy and rolled-off a bit earlier than I’d prefer, but then again a lot of higher budget models have not performed any better than the IEM2X so certainly not a black mark against it. Those who prefer a micro-driver for comfort and fit with a fairly balanced sound signature will enjoy the IEM2x and with the price being asked for them, they make a good backup pair for work, or a pair to introduce non-audio oriented folks to what in-ears can do. The detail level will certainly impress those used to what comes with smartphones or tablets.
- Microphone - 7/107/10
- Bass - 6/106/10
- Mids - 6/106/10
- Treble - 5/105/10
- Soundstage - 4.5/104.5/10
- Imaging - 5/105/10
Pros: Good build quality, Great cable, small size makes fit easy
Cons: uneven and grainy treble.